Van Gaal played Di Maria in FA Cup to take mind off house attack
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed he played Angel di Maria in midweek to help the player's state of mind after his house was attacked.
Reports emerged this week that Di Maria and his family were at home in Cheshire last Saturday night when their property became the target of an attempted break-in.
The perpetrators apparently fled empty-handed after failing to smash through a patio door but Di Maria's family are thought to have relocated to a hotel following the terrifying incident.
Van Gaal felt he had a duty of care towards the family to give Di Maria some time off but the Argentina international played in Tuesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay against Cambridge at his own insistence.
Mindful of the club record £59.7million signing's long-term wellbeing and happiness, Van Gaal said: "I believe in the total human being principle, so his environment is also important. He was worried about his wife and child.
"I spoke with him and he wanted to play against Cambridge United and I played him. I have decided in the past that I will never play a player in those circumstances, because of the total human being principle.
"But with him I had the feeling that I had to give him a chance to play and I was happy that I let him play. He played very well. And, of course, I have to decide Sunday again, but when you have seen his performance against Cambridge, I don't think I have any doubt."
United travel to West Ham on Sunday looking to maintain their recent momentum after four games unbeaten.
Van Gaal's side beat Leicester last weekend and then reached the FA Cup fifth round with their comfortable 3-0 success over League Two Cambridge.
United are third in the Barclays Premier League and Van Gaal wants to push on to enjoy a strong second half of the season.
Trailing leaders Chelsea by 10 points, he does not realistically believe they can become a factor in the title race - but he is not ruling it out.
He said: "It should be fantastic, of course, for the fans - but our goal is ending in the first four of the league and winning the FA Cup.
"There are still 16 clubs who want that, so that shall be difficult and ending in the first four is also difficult because there are teams breathing down our necks.
"It shall be very difficult to catch Chelsea, but it is mathematically possible. So we shall try to do everything we can to win every game. We are capable of doing that.
"It is possible, but it is also difficult. If I had to bet, I would bet on Chelsea - but I am not allowed to bet."